Cactus Club February 1999

2 February 1999.................rights, duties, and conflicts

Quoting from MORAL RIGHTS AND POLITICAL FREEDOM by Tara Smith------------ "While duties correlative to true rights do not impose literal costs on others, duties correlative to false rights do. That cost is a violation of their rights.

All rights entail duties, in order to constitute potent moral claims. Given the limited jurisdiction of rights, however, not all duties entail rights. Since the realm governed by moral obligation is much broader than the realm governed by rights, many duties concern aspects of the moral propriety of actions other than the freedom of those actions. Accordingly, many moral imperatives are unattached to any individuals' rights (prescriptions to be disciplined, productive, or honest with oneself, for instance). Since numerous moral principles instruct what we should do rather than simply what we are obligated to allow others to do, these obligations are not rooted in particular claims that other individuals are entitled to press against us.

The fact that the ancient Greeks had a coherent conception of morality that did not include the idea of rights supports the claim that obligation is not dependent upon the concept of rights. Many cases arise in which, although a person has an obligation to do something, her failure to do that something would not deprive another person of what he is entitled to. When a person has such an obligation, she can (and should) be morally condemned for failing to fulfill it. But the grounds of that condemnation are different from the grounds for condemning violations of rights.

While most rights theorists concur with this view of the relationship between rights and duties, they have tended to defend it by appealing to examples rather than by explaining the distinctive tasks of rights and other moral principles. A few standard examples are typically invoked to illustrate the difference between rights-based and not-rights-based duties. Many maintain that people have an obligatiion to contribute to charitable causes although no particular individual may demand, by right, that people donate to THEM. Many maintain that we have obligations toward animals and the environment, though again, no rightholder stands on the receiving end of such obligations. (In recent years, of course, some have claimed that animals and the environment do have rights, but many continue to hold that we have duties in these areas untied to anyone's {or anything's} rights.) Others have suggested that we have obligations of courtesy, though a victim of unprovoked gruffness has not suffered any infringement of her rights.

Self-regarding behavior provides more compelling evidence. As noted earlier, a person may have some moral obligations that have no direct bearing on others. Moral injunctions against sloth or wanton indulgence of appetites fall under this category. Obligations to live up to these demands are not grounded in anyone's rights.

Obviously, whether any example provides a convincing case for the existence of obligations independent of rights will depend on whether one credits the cited obligation as genuine. The true basis for the thesis that not all duties entail rights rests in attending to the division of labor that I have sketched: the distinction between judgments of what a person should do (the broad realm of obligations) and judgments of what a person should be free to do ( the particular province of rights, which coincides with the narrower field of rights-based obligations).

We can now better understand my original statement that rights are individuals' moral claims to freedom of action._______Rights are claims of trumplike authority. Rights govern one segment of morality: individuals' freedom. And rights apply only in social settings. In addition, it is important to appreciate the defensive character of rights and their irrevocable implication of others' obligations. In order to shield individuals' freedom, rights must correspond with others' duties of non-interference." Comment: Here is the connection between morality and spontaneous order that Hayek referred to in the January Dialogue. Spontaneous order requires freedom and freedom requires that everyone accept, as a moral obligation, the "right" of others to be free. The difference between central planning/social engineering and spontaneous order lies in an understanding of the difference between rights and duties and the subsequent committment to honor each others' properly defined rights. Questions: Is it possible to come to any general agreement about who has which rights or is this simply part of the broader problem of determining a universal moral code. Won't people always disagree about questions of morality? And won't this disagreement always lead to conflict? Isn't moral authority in the form of the state or the church better than moral anarchy? (PD)

12 February 1999................culture and the legitimate use of physical violence

Quoting from Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Introduction to THE ETHICS OF LIBERTY by Murray N. Rothbard--------------"In distinct contrast, a territorial monopoly of protection and jurisdiction--a state--rests from the outset on an impermissible act of expropriation, and it provides the monopolist and his agents with a license to further expropriation (taxation). It implies that every property owner is prohibited from discontinuing his cooperation with his supposed protector, and that no one except the monopolist may exercise ultimate jurisdiction over his own property. Rather, everyone (except the monopolist) has lost his right to physical protection and defense against possible invasion by the state and is thus rendered defenseless vis-a-vis the actions of his own alleged protector. Consequently, the price of justice and protection will continually rise and the quality of justice and protection will continually fall. A tax-funded protection agency is a contradiction in terms--an invasive protector--and will, if permitted, lead to increasingly more taxes and ever less protection. Likewise, the existence of a judicial monopoly will lead to a steady deterioration of justice. For if no one can appeal for justice except to the state and its courts and judges, justice will be constantly perverted in favor of the state until the idea of immutable laws of human conduct ultimately disappears and is replaced with the idea of law as positive state-made legislation.__________Apart from economic and political concerns, Rothbard increasingly focused his attention on and stressed the importance of culture as a sociological prerequisite of libertarianism.

Libertarianism as developed in THE ETHICS OF LIBERTY was no more and no less than a political philosophy. It provided an answer to the question of which actions are lawful and hence may not be legitimately threatened with physical violence, and which actions are unlawful and may be so punished. It did not say anything with respect to the further question whether or not all lawful actions should be equally tolerated or possibly punished by means other than--and below the threshold of--a threat of physical violence, such as public disapprobation, ostracism, exclusion, and expulsion." Question: How many in our culture would agree with the analysis above and what are the implications of these ideas in terms of the First Postulate of Socionomics? (PD)

15 February 1999..................a perpetual source of hatred and discord

Quoting from THE LAW by Frederic Bastiat-----------------"In fact, if law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties; if law were nothing more than the organized combination of the individual's right to self defense; if law were the obstacle, the check, the punisher of all oppression and plunder---is it likely that we citizens would then argue much about the extent of the franchise?

Under these circumstances, is it likely that the extent of the right to vote would endanger that supreme good, the public peace? Is it likely that the excluded classes would refuse to peaceably await the coming of their right to vote? Is it likely that those who had the right to vote would jealously defend their privilege?

If the law were confined to its proper functions, everyone's interest in the law would be the same. Is it not clear that, under these circumstances, those who voted could not inconvenience those who did not vote?

But on the other hand, imagine that this fatal principle has been introduced: Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few---whether farmers, manufacturers, shipowners, artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so.

The excluded classes will furiously demand their right to vote---and will overthrow society rather than not to obtain it. Even beggars and vagabonds will then prove to you that they also have an incontestable title to vote. They will say: 'We cannot buy wine, tobacco, or salt without paying the tax. And a part of the tax that we pay is given by law---in privileges and subsidies---to men who are richer than we are. Others use the law to raise the prices of bread, meat, iron, or cloth. Thus, since everyone else uses the law for his own profit, we also would like to use the law for our own profit. We demand from the law the RIGHT TO RELIEF, which is the poor man's plunder. To obtain this right, we also should be voters and legislators in order that we may organize Beggary on a grand scale for our own class, as you have organized Protection on a grand scale for your class. Now don't tell us beggars that you will act for us, and then toss us, as Mr. Mimerel proposes, 600,000 francs to keep us quiet, like throwing us a bone to gnaw. We have other claims. And anyway, we wish to bargain for ourselves as other classes have bargained for themselves!' And what can you say to answer that argument!

As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose---that it may violate property instead of protecting it---then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer.

Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States {in 1850}. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on firmer foundation." Question: 150 years later, given that there are now over 3000 federal laws that could take your property or your liberty or both (not to mention state and local laws), does American society still rest on a firm foundation? (PD)

18 February exchange of services

Quoting from THE ART OF COMMUNITY by Cactus Club member Spencer H. MacCallum--------------------"The function of a community within a larger community may also be a significant variable, for normally we live in communities within communities---a Booth within a Restaurant within a Building within a Shopping Center within a Town. In contemporary society, a person seldom finds himself in only one community at one time. He passes from one community to another a number of times during a day, occupying several simultaneously on successive levels whose bounds usually can be described with great clarity.

If the hotel is really a community, then is there a principle on which it is organized as such? What are the social bonds that hold it together? The answer is basically that the hotel is a community Organized By Contract.___________

The elaboration of business contract is a prominent and historically recent development of Western civilization. It has assumed major importance within the last two centuries as a way of relating Impersonally to others to accomplish personal wants by exchange of services.____________

Contract has proved to be an extremely productive technique for individuals to employ in meeting such needs as food and clothing. But when men think of providing environmental needs such as streets, parks, and civic planning---needs they cannot enjoy separately but must share in common---they habitually look to other means. The hotel proves to be an exception. Here is an example of contract operating effectively in a collective---a community---context.

Contract is the universal bond in hotel organization. Not only every member of the service staff, but every guest is related to the whole organization through its proprietors by contract. The manner of the relationship of each toward others is specified in the terms of the individual contracts, the sum of which at any time is the social charter or constitution of the community.

It would be appropriate to call the hotel a Proprietary Community (Note: the author now refers to this type of community as an Entrepreneurial Community or EntreCom), since it is a proprietary enterprise and the relatiions of every member of the community are formed directly with the proprietary authority. The terms of each contract, however, define the relations of each individual to every other person in the community---the least obvious relationship being that between one guest and another, since the special character of the hotel requires that these relations be in the nature of what in anthropology are called avoidance, or respect, relations. It is the nature of contracts that their full terms are seldom, if ever, spelled out in writing. That would be cumbersome. A contract is nothing more than an agreement, a meeting of minds, and it is enough for such a purpose that much of it be unwritten. This is particularly true of hotel guest contracts, since these are usually short-term and highly standardized. Certain conventions of behavior required in the hotel are no less contractual for not being written." Comment: Spontaneous social order, whereby A helps B because B helped C, is a complex adaptive system based on the transfer of property titles facilitated by contractual agreements. Other types of social organization, on the other hand, require a mechanism whereby A, B, and C can be coerced into helping each other by D who, by the same mechanism, obtains a portion of the redistribution. Questions: Is politics just a bad habit, a necessary evil, or a constructive force for the betterment of society? Does the IRS Code constitute a contractual relationship between the IRS and the taxpayers of the United States? How do you account for its extreme complexity? (PD)

20 February 1999....................harmonizing discrepancies

Quoting from THE ABOLITION OF MAN by C.S. Lewis-------------------"Does this mean, then, that no progress in our perceptions of value can ever take place? That we are bound down for ever to an unchanging code given once for all? And is it, in any event, possible to talk of obeying what I call the TAO? If we lump together, as I have done, the traditional moralities of East and West, the Christian, the Pagan, and the Jew, shall we not find many contradictions and some absurdities? I admit all this. Some criticism, some removal of contradictions, even some real development, is required. But there are two very different kinds of criticism.

A theorist about lanquage may approach his native tongue, as it were from outside, regarding its genius as a thing that has no claim on him and advocating wholesale alterations of its idiom and spelling in the interests of commercial convenience or scientific accuracy. That is one thing. A great poet, who has ' loved, and been well nurtured in, his mother tongue,' may also make great alterations in it, but his changes of the language are made in the spirit of the language itself: he works from within. The language which suffers, has also inspired, the changes. That is a different thing---as different as the works of Shakespeare are from Basic English. It is the difference between alteration from within and alteration from without: between the organic and the surgical.

In the same way, the TAO admits development from within. There is a difference between a real moral advance and a mere innovation. From the Confucian ' Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you' to the Christian ' Do as you would be done by' is a real advance. The morality of Nietzche is a mere innovation. The first is an advance because no one who did not admit the validity of the old maxim could see reason for accepting the new one, and anyone who accepted the old would at once recognize the new as an extension of the same principle. If he rejected it, he would have to reject it as a superfluity, something that went too far, not as something simply heterogeneous from his own ideas of value. But the Nietzschean ethic can be accepted only if we are ready to scrap traditional morals as a mere error and then to put ourselves in a position where we can find no ground for any value judgments at all. It is the difference between a man who says to us: ' You like your vegetables moderately fresh; why not grow your own and have them perfectly fresh?' and a man who says, 'Throw away that loaf and try eating bricks and centipedes instead.'

Those who understand the spirit of the TAO and who have been led by that spirit can modify it in directions which that spirit itself demands. Only they can know what those directions are. The outsider knows nothing about the matter. His attempts at alteration, as we have seen, contradict themselves. So far from being able to harmonize discrepancies in its letter by penetration to its spirit, he merely snatches at some one precept, on which the accidents of time and place happen to have riveted his attention, and then rides it to death---for no reason that he can give. From within the TAO itself comes the only authority to modify the TAO. This is what Confucius meant when he said ' With those who follow a different Way it is useless to take counsel.' This is why Aristotle said that only those who have been well brought up can usefully study ethics: to the corrupted man, the man who stands outside the TAO, the very starting point of this science is invisible." Comment: Politics is fundamentally a moral issue in that the use of force (taxation) to accomplish social objectives may or may not be acceptable in a particular moral system. Morality, on the other hand, has become a political issue even though many believe that the determination of the appropriate moral system is an individual problem best suited for development in the family domain. Those who set out to control the morality of society are social engineers just like those who set out to solve other types of so-called social problems such as poverty and an asymetric distribution of opportunities. Both the conservatives and liberals are trying to control complex adaptive systems (such as the weather) with little success so far. Questions: Is morality subject to the laws of spontaneous social order just like any other complex adaptive system? Is there a mechanism like prices, subject to the laws of supply and demand, and property, subject to title exchange, which allows a moral system to evolve in a manner analogous to capital formation and economic growth? (PD)

22 February 1999..............regarding TCC input (2 February 1999)

Tara Smith's distinction between duties associated with respecting the rights of others and all other duties is a valuable one. It should be readily apparent that if one expects the liberty to exercise his own rights, he has a duty to allow others the same liberty -- that is, he is concomitantly duty-bound to respect the rights of others. And yet duties exist beyond those required to respect the rights of others, as Smith points out. We may debate the propriety of these duties individually (e.g., do we all accept the duty cited by Smith to contribute to charity?), but we can't ignore their reality. To address them, our Program Director asks the following questions:

"Won't people always disagree about questions of morality? And won't this disagreement always lead to conflict? Isn't moral authority in the form of the state or the church better than moral anarchy?

I think it's readily apparent people will always disagree about questions of morality, and that to some extent this disagreement will lead to conflict. But I'll respectfully accuse our P. D. of offering us the fallacy of false choice with his last question. Can we not have other forms of authority than the state and the church? Alternately, is moral anarchy the necessary result of the lack of state and church authority?

Virginia Postrel, editor of Reason magazine, has a new book, The Future and Its Enemies: The Growing Conflict Over Creativity, Enterprise, and Progress, that appears to be particularly brilliant. I have yet to acquire and read it, but based solely upon the excerpt that was presented in the January 1999 edition of Reason under the title, "The Bonds of Life," I will wholeheartedly recommend it.

The particular topic the article covered was that of rules -- specifically, guidelines for effective rules for any large and diverse population. Postrel's simple guidelines were that "dynamist" rules would follow five basic principles: They would

  • allow individuals and groups of individuals to act on their own knowledge;
  • apply to simple, generic units and allow them to combine in many different ways;
  • permit credible, understandable, enduring, and enforceable commitments;
  • protect criticism, competition, and feedback, and;
  • establish a framework within which people can create nested, competing frameworks of more specific rules.

    (Virginia Postrel, "Bonds of Life," Reason, January 1999, p. 24.)

    I propose the two following premises: that very straightforward and simple logic can make the overwhelming case that a free society cannot possibly exist without a binding duty for all men to respect the rights of others; and that such duties form exactly the kind of basic rules adhering to the principles Postrel lays out above.

    Beyond those basic duties, then, we should be free to form associations and organizations with their own competing and nesting duties -- i.e., rules -- that are not rights-based. States and churches are two such associations, as are communities, corporations, social organizations, and so on. The rules of these groupings would provide the further frameworks that Smith cites, and the competition among them would allow the same kind of effective spontaneous order evolution we see in the free-market economy; organizations with efficient and effective rules would thrive, while those with onerous and unproductive rules would die out.

    So I conclude by repeating that, yes, disagreements about morality -- about the rules we live by -- are bound to occur, and are bound to lead to conflict. It is only when we play the zero-sum game requiring everybody to live by the exact same rules that such conflicts become destructive. Equal and competing systems of rules would allow the same constructive conflict as we see in economics to result in an efficient spontaneous order in the realm of morality and rules. (JV)

    25 February 1999................the laws and jury nullification

    The following article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (2/21/99). It was written by Joan Biskupic of the Washington Post and concerns the topic of jury nullification. Question: How would Frederic Bastiat respond to this article? (PD)

    In courthouses across the country, an unprecedented level of juror activism is taking hold, ignited by a movement of people who are turning their back on the evidence presented at trial and using the jury box instead as a bold form of civil protest.

    Whether they are blacks who believe the system is stacked against them, libertarians who abhor government's overbearing hand, or someone else altogether, these jurors are choosing to ignore judges' instructions because they don't like what the law says or how it is being applied to a particular defendant.

    The phenomenon takes many forms. In upstate New York, a black man refused to join 11 other jurors in convicting black defendants of cocaine charges, saying he was sympathetic to their struggles as blacks to make ends meet.

    In rural Colorado, a woman refused to convict in a methamphetamine case and caused such disruption that she forced a mistrial and was herself convicted of obstructing justice.

    Just last year in suburban Montgomery County, Md., jurors in two separate trials of developer and politician Ruthann Aron objected to her even being prosecuted on murder-for-hire charges in the first place.

    Threat to justice

    Although they still represent a relatively small proportion of the tens of thousands of jurors who file into courtrooms every day, a striking body of evidence suggests their numbers are increasing.

    Case studies and interviews with more than 100 jurors, judges, lawyers and academics reveal a significant pattern of juror defiance. Some go so far as to say jury nullification -- the term for jurors who outright reject the law represents a threat to the foundation of the U.S. court system if it is not confronted and dealt with.

    "There is a real potential danger if this problem goes unchecked," said former District judge and Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. "I've seen what happens when ordinary citizens sit on a jury with someone who nullifies. You hear it in their comments. There is a real loss of faith. And for those who are regularly a part of the court system, there is a real cynicism that grows out of nullification."

    The most concrete sign of the trend is the sharp jump in the percentage of trials that end in hung juries. For decades, a 5 percent hung jury rate was considered the norm, derived from a landmark study published 30 years ago by Harry Kalven Jr. and Hans Zeisel. In recent years, however, that figure has doubled and quadrupled, depending on location.

    Some local courts in California, for example, have reported more than 20 percent of trials ending in hung juries. Federal criminal cases in Washington, D.C., averaged 15 percent hung juries in 1996 (the most recent year for which data were available) --three times the rate in 1991. A hung jury is simply one in which the 12 jurors disagree over whether to convict or acquit. Judges, lawyers and others who study the phenomenon suspect that more and more, differences are erupting over not the evidence but whether the law being broken is fair.

    Their concerns are supported by a recent nationwide poll by Decision Quest and the National Law Journal, which found that three out of four Americans said they would act on their own beliefs of right and wrong, regardless of instructions from a judge to follow the letter of the law. Because of the secrecy surrounding jury deliberations, it is impossible to know precisely how often jurors act on those views. Nonetheless, the evidence is becoming overwhelming that nullification is real.

    Its proponents are becoming well-organized, promoting their call for jury activism in every state and in every form. They've printed bumper stickers and brochures, rented billboards and subway placards, and created Web sites and informal clubs urging people to stand up to the system. "What's different now," said Vanderbilt University law professor Nancy King, who has tracked the phenomenon, "is that there's an organized, national movement to change the power of the jury."

    Hidden agendas

    It's hard to tell when a juror is taking the law into his or her own hands. The only people in the room deliberating are the 12 chosen to serve, so unless one speaks up, no one knows why a jury reaches the conclusion it does. Nor can anyone know what motivates a particular juror. If jurors vote not to convict because they don't believe the nation's drug laws are fair, they may disguise their true feelings by simply saying the evidence wasn't there or the prosecution didn't make its case. Otherwise, they risk being ejected from the jury box.

    Lawyers nationwide say they are convinced that jurors are rejecting the law -- in drug possession cases, in trials that lead to "three strikes, you're out" or other stiff mandatory sentences, and in situations that invoke evolving social values, such as the "assisted suicide" charges lodged against Jack Kevorkian.

    Prosecutors say it's vigilante justice, but defense lawyers have a complicated response. Few endorse nullification as a payback for race discrimination or other social grievances, but they also recognize that, if a juror does hold out on conviction, that's good for their client. "From my point of view," said New York defense lawyer Thomas J. O'Hern, "there are three potential verdicts: 'guilty', 'not guilty' and 'can't decide.' 'Can't decide' is a win for me. 

    Some of the most sensational cases -- or, at least, most publicized, arise when the subject of race does. In the recent case against former agriculture secretary Mike Espy, accused of accepting illegal gratuities, independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz asked the judge to instruct jurors speficially not to consider the fact that Espy is black.

    Smaltz said he was making the request because Espy's lawyer suggested to jurors that Espy was prosecuted because he is black. Racial arguments, Smaltz said, are "an attempt to encourage the jury to acquit the defendant regardless of his guilt".

    Smaltz was turned down, but the daring strategy comes as fresh evidence that prosecutors increasingly believe they need to head off social vindication in the jury box. (In December, Espy was acquitted of all charges by a jury of 11 blacks and one white. All jurors questioned afterward said their verdict was based not on race but on their belief that Smaltz's corruption charges were overblown.)

    In an Oakland, Calif., case, fellow jurors said one member was overly sympathetic to a defendant. James R. Metters Jr. had ordered food at a Wendy's restaurant, then told the cashier to "give him all the twenties." The cashier later testified that she thought Metters held a gun in his hand, which was wrapped in cloth, so she gave him the money and he fled.

    The cashier found the restaurant manager, who immediately told a police sergeant who happened to be at the drive-through window. The sergeant caught Metters, finding his coat and $383 in cash nearby.

    During his trial, his lawyer said Metters was being pursued by drug dealers to whom he owed money and feared for his life. During deliberations, a woman identified as "Juror No. 4 said it was wrong to convict him, according to court records. The drug dealers threatened to kill him and his family, she said: "Shouldn't that matter!"

    Others in the room said the man should be convicted, whatever his motivations, and complained in a note to the judge that Juror No. 4 was "unfairly sympathetic" to Metters. They said she had worked in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, a fact that affected her ability to view the facts and law objectively.

    When the judge questioned the juror, she insisted she had been "deliberating in good faith for a day and a half but felt that there had been a breakdown in communication. "I'm not willing to deal with what went on in there yesterday," she said. "They are trying to convince me that I'm stupid."

    The judge agreed with the other jurors that she was not being open-minded and dismissed her. An alternate juror was added, and the jury then found Metters guilty.

    Post-trial surprises

    Sometimes cross currents among jurors become public only after the deliberations. That happened in both 1998 trials for Ruthann Aron, a former Maryland politician accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband and a lawyer. The first jury deadlocked in March when a lone holdout, Shawn D. Walker, said Aron should not be prosecuted because she was emotionally overwrought when she hired the killer. Better to let Aron off and urge her to get counseling than to use the court system to imprison her, Walker said.

    Other jurors later complained that Walker was biased from the start. She had taught emotionally disabled children and had professional experience with mental disorders -- facts she did not reveal during jury selection.

    After the second Aron trial ended abruptly last July when Aron agreed to plead no contest, a juror revealed she was ready to vote against conviction. "She clearly did it," that juror said, requesting anonymity. "But she had bottomed out. This was a mental health issue. And, in the end, no one ended up dead." This juror said she had never heard of "jury nullification" before that trial. Afterward, she spoke of her experience to friends and colleagues, who directed her to Internet sites urging people to get on juries to "vote your conscience."

    Her reflections are revealing about the process of jury activism: "You don't go in there and say,'I don't believe in drug laws or the death penalty so I'm going to vote to acquit.' It just happens. Suddenly, people who think of themselves as law-abiding don't like the way the law is being used."

    Encouraging dissent

    When it was first formed 10 years ago in a desolate Montana hamlet, the Fully Informed Jury Association could conduct its business around a kitchen table. Today, it claims 6,000 devotees

    nationwide who help spread the word -- through the Internet, mass mailings and courthouse leafletting -- that jurors should act on their own morality. That call, as well as the effect of members' work in today's courtrooms, is beginning to gain attention. "Jurors have an inherent right to veto unjust laws," said Larry Dodge, a Montana sociology professor turned libertarian activist who heads the group. Its activists have been arrested for obstructing justice in several cities where they have passed out leaflets to jurors arriving at courthouses.

    "I don't think we've ever inspired people to just fold their arms and say, 'We're going to stick it to the system.' Rather, we give them ideas for doubt about the law," Dodge said from his Helmville, Mont., office-trailer.

    Dodge urges callers to his hot line not to reveal any ideological bent if they are called to serve.

    "Lying is sometimes the right thing to do," he says, "because judges shouldn't be asking prying questions in the first place. Few of the nation's trial judges have been willing to voice concerns publicly for fear of giving the movement legitimacy or appearing to tread on juror independence. But for Colorado circuit Judge Frederic B. Rodgers, jury nullification is a consuming interest.

    "It is a recipe for anarchy ...[when jurors] are allowed to substitute personal whims for the stable and established law," said Rodgers, who has warned other judges in articles that organized activists are "coming to a courthouse near you".

    27 February 1999.............regarding TCC input (15 February 1999)

    If you read a bit farther you see that Bastiat noted that slavery and tariffs would cause the ruination of the union. The United States is well down the path that Bastiat foretold. Bastiat also wrote that all issues will become political and conflict will become the order of the day. Whether we teach reading using phonics or whole language is a political issue; whether we have side air bags in our cars, whether electric outlets must be placed every 12 feet, how many gallons our toilets can flush-- these are all political issues. Everyday we rely less on spontaneous order and voluntary exchange to organize society and more on the process of using government to enforce our will on others. The only way to change this is to educate people and convince them that they will be better off under spontaneous order. The best way to do this is to alert them to the fact that they cannot affect political outcomes. They are turning society over to an elite group of power-wielding bureaucrats, lobbyists, and politicians. The average person has been told they can affect political outcomes through their vote, but of course we know this is not true. We must convince the average person that the market process gives them more control over their situation than the political process. (GW)